Everyone's streams are different, but we all have to deal with the process of setting up our shows just before going live. This might mean adjusting cameras or lights, installing game patches, relocating a console to our streaming area, adjusting audio sliders, or any of a million other little tasks which slowly chip away at our time and motivation. If your stream prep takes even five minutes longer than it should, that time adds up more than you might think. After your 100th stream, you would have wasted more than 8 combined hours, just on that five minute activity! I want to teach you to standardize your setup and minimize variables. This will make it so that there is as little time as possible between when you decide to stream and when you actually press that 'Go Live' button.
➢ FIND YOUR BASELINE
How long does it take you to set up your show? Time yourself, from the moment you decide you want to stream on a given day, to the moment you go live. Don't rush because you want to make 'good time' and don't leave out steps because they 'don't count'. For bonus points, measure this span of time across multiple stream preparations to get a more accurate figure. It doesn't matter how big the number you write down actually is, as long as it's truthful. We just need to understand what it's like for you now, before we can start improving your future shows.
|Get your stream done, then get to the next stream faster.|
- Did you already stream today? Make sure you only work on these kinds of improvements after you've already done your stream. Being live on the internet is always priority one after all, and you don't want these improvements to become an excuse for not showing up.
- Have you already done ten official streams on your channel? Unless you've been streaming for a while, you won't know which aspects of your setup time need improvement, and you should be focusing on honing your on-camera craft rather future-proofing. For more info about this, see the entry Surviving Your First Ten Streams.
➢ THE STATIONARY STREAMING SETUP
The ideal setup for streaming is completely stationary: a scenario in which you could simply sit down, press a button, and be live on the internet. This is far from reality for most however, because before the show starts there are things that need to get physically moved or changed every time they go live. This might mean a camera that needs to be positioned, a set of lights that need to be adjusted, or a green screen to be laid out. Each of these takes time to complete, and when you put them all together, they sap much more than your time.
|When nothing is nailed down, things get out of|
hand pretty fast.
Physical changes like this might require rippling alterations to your streaming area as well. For my streams, I relocated my desk, the lamps and all the wall art in my room so I could make my stream lighting live in the optimal spot, and hook it up to the main light switch. Now when I enter the room, I simply press the light switch on the wall and every single light needed for my stream is already positioned and turned on. No adjustments, no digging on the floor or behind lamps for switches, no forgetting to turn on one of the lights before the show starts. It's all ready to go every time, and completely infallible. Imagine how much time and headache I've saved from that single change alone over the past 1,500 streams.
➢ REFINING THE INTANGIBLE
|Be like a mechanic on your streams.|
Sometimes improving your streams actually requires downgrading your streams. Is your camera a huge time-sink because you're borrowing it from your brother every time you go live? Is your Xbox One supposed to live in the family room, and you have to dig behind the TV to unplug its cables before each show? Does your green screen put up a fight every time you want to put it up, but there's no way to keep it up throughout the day? In other words, is there a single step that, by itself, takes 80% of your stream setup time? Then consider cutting that feature from your stream entirely. Yes, it'll lower the production value of your show, but if it allows you to stream more consistently then you'll be gaining much more than you lose. There is such a thing as growing too fast. It's the main reason new startup companies fail, and it's the main reason most Twitch streamers get burned out without even realizing what went wrong.
➢ MORE TIME FOR WHAT MATTERS
The biggest killers for streamers aren't huge losses or major mistakes- they're completely invisible enemies, things that creep up without the streamer even noticing, until one day they're ready to give up streaming altogether. Believe it or not, the stuff you're doing to prepare your stream right before going live could be quietly poisoning the well. By having a mountain of variable tasks, requiring you to get down on the floor, move things between rooms, unplug cables, or adjust settings, which all might take drastically different amounts of time or encourage mistakes in your execution, you'll start to subconsciously resent the activity of streaming altogether. It might not happen tomorrow, or a month from now, or even in a year, but if you keep a sloppy and undefined prep regimen, this stream fatigue will eventually creep up and you won't even know why.
When you make your stream setup process as stationary as possible, you won't be expending a bunch of mental energy to prepare your shows. Your setup time will be drastically shorter, and you'll be able to make significantly fewer mistakes. None of us will attain that mythical stream setup which needs absolutely no preparation before going live, but if you can adjust your stream to be as close to that ideal as possible, a huge weight will be lifted from your shoulders. When you perfect your stream preparations, you'll gain much more than time- you'll help your future self stay motivated for many more streams to come.